Renovabis is the solidarity initiative of the German Catholics with the people in Central and Eastern Europe. Renovabis was founded in March 1993 by the German Bishops’ Conference at the suggestion of the Central Committee of the German Catholics. The initiative supports its partners in the pastoral, social and societal renewal of the formerly communist countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
In the statutes of Renovabis it is among other things stipulated that: “It is the purpose of the association to further the pastoral objects in Central and Eastern Europe and the societal reconstruction in these regions, which the overall population shall benefit from, as well as to support people in need of help, regardless of their nationality and religious affiliation.” (Art. 2)
During the past 16 years, Renovabis has supported the realization of more than 16,100 projects in 29 countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe – with an overall volume of around 470 million Euro.
Support for Self-Help
An important criterion for the support of projects is the “partner principle”. This means that Renovabis becomes active when and where partners ask for the support of concrete projects. It is a precondition that the project partners contribute sufficiently to the realization of the project through material contribution or personal activity. Furthermore, a project can only be supported on the condition that it will remain viable without help also after the cessation of the subsidization. Therefore, the capability of the partner organization to shoulder responsibility and its qualification are indispensable prerequisites for the commitment of Renovabis, which always aims at offering support for self-help.
Solidarity is Essential
After the collapse of the communist regimes in 1989/1990, many countries in Eastern Europe have made great progress from a political and an economic point of view. However, one thing should not be overlooked: In most of the states, the necessary transformation processes have brought about a considerable, long-term deterioration of the material living conditions of many people. The social divide within the societies of these countries has become even greater; a “social network” mostly does not exist. By the way, this is also true for new EU states such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Partnership and Dialogue
The solidarity initiative Renovabis initiates and accompanies several hundred partnerships between West and East in Europe and thus furthers the exchange of experience, human encounters and common learning.
Renovabis keeps close contact to more than 1,800 partnership groups. With their primarily voluntary commitment, these groups are building living bridges of mutual understanding to the people in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, who live in a multitude of traditions and have a rich spiritual heritage. This is a chance for a fruitful “exchange of gifts”.
Sharing Information on Eastern Europe
It is the aim of Renovabis to promote an understanding of this need for solidarity with the people in Eastern Europe in overall Germany by conducting publicity, educational and lobby activities vis-à-vis donators, parishes, churchly and non-churchly institutions. In press releases, radio reports and telecasts as well as on its homepage Renovabis informs about the situation in the states in question, supported projects and the situation of the churches on the spot. Educational events and exchange programs offer the possibility to study political, social, churchly and European issues intensively in a dialogue with partners from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Concepts Made to Measure
Renovabis’s projects in the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are developed in close cooperation with partners in the field and are therefore oriented on their needs and possibilities.
Projects are as a rule sponsored upon prior request. This means that the partners file requests for projects with Renovabis, which requests describe the planned projects and already contain detailed cost and funding planning. An adequate contribution of the partners – commensurate with the partners’ capabilities - is required.
The project policy of Renovabis is geared to the real demand, meaning that the implementation of a project focuses on the concrete living conditions of the people on the spot. The point is to find concepts which are made to measure.
In order to monitor the progress of assisted projects, reports about the use of the provided means are required. This is supervised by internal auditing and external auditors.
The project sponsorship by Renovabis follows a holistic approach encompassing both churchly and social projects. During the past years, an ever-increasing number of educational projects were added. This shows clearly that such projects are prioritized which offer a direct benefit for the people, or to put it differently: In the light of the scarcity of means, investment in the wellbeing of the people takes priority over investment in the material infrastructure.
The spectrum of projects is conceivably broad. Within the framework of the necessary social and societal renewal, Renovabis is for example supporting work with children and adolescents, for instance by establishing kindergartens and schools or by supporting international youth meetings.